Bento no. 16: A minimalist vegan bento for a tender tummy


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Bento contents:

Total calories (approx): 400 (how calories are calculated)

Time needed: 10 minutes in the morning, a bit of this and that previously

Type: Japanese, vegan, gluten-free

I made this bento a few days ago when I was feeling pretty ill. I had an odd reaction to some creamy soup I’d had at a restaurant, and had spent the night being friendly with the bathroom. In the morning, I felt very weak and spent, and my stomach felt very tender. But I knew I’d be hungry and very grouchy by lunchtime if I didn’t have anything to eat. So, I tottered to the kitchen and assembled this bento entirely with staples or johbisai.

The brown rice is sprouted brown rice - basically rice that has been soaked in lukewarm water and allowed to sprout. The sprouting process supposedly makes it easier to digest, while still retaining the nutritional benefits of brown rice and more. It’s called GBR in vegan and healthy eating circles. (See looking at rice.)

I had a few packets of this stashed in the freezer, and some of stewed hijiki in the fridge. There were frozen cooked spinach bundles too, and some gomashio, sesame seed salt. So I just defrosted and put things all together for my very simple, easy on the tummy bento. I added a big low-salt umeboshi (pickled plum), because umeboshi is supposed to have healing qualities.

It was very simple, but delicious, and because of the sesame seeds, fairly nutritionally balanced. I’d almost say it was Zen-like, though I think this term is way overused so… Chewing on the rice very slowly together with the toasty sesame seeds was really very nice.

Oh yes, and it’s totally vegan and gluten-free, and only 400 calories in total.

The bento container I used incidentally is the bowl-shaped one I that I used previously for bento no. 12. I didn’t include a miso ball this time, because the umeboshi and gomashio were already pretty salty.

Guy version of the bento with leftover fish


This has about 2 cups of rice, a full tablespoon of gomashio, and a piece of the miso and kochujang marinated cod which I’d purposefully reserved from dinner a couple of nights before. The total calories for this is about 800. I omitted the umeboshi in his bento because the fish is fairly salty anyway, and my stash of those big plump umeboshi is running low and I’m selfish. :) The Guy loved this bento, by the way, and found it quite filling. (Incidentally a couple of people have asked me to show photos of the “BF/Spouse” version of the bentos - I’ll try to take a picture whenever I can.)

I haven’t included a timeline for this one since everything is made ahead. It’s just a matter of defrosting and heating up things that you have stocked. (If the fish has been in the fridge for longer than overnight, heat it through briefly in a dry frying pan to be on the safe side.)

Give the brown rice (or even white rice) with gomashio or other furikake on top kind of bento a try when you are feeling a bit poorly or sluggish. It may be boring to have a bento like this every day, but on occasion it really seems to get the body back into balance.

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low-salt umeboshi

Hi Maki, Are all the big umeboshi lower in salt? Or do they actually make low-salt version? I’d like to try that, but I won’t know the difference looking at the packaging…I’d be lucky to even see an English word on there.

it depends on the kind

It really depends on the kind I’m afraid - big ones can be low or high in salt. Umeboshi are inherently salty anyway, some are just sooo salty they are hard to stand! You can get rid of some of the saltiness of those by soaking them for a while in weak salt water, which will draw out the salt (though some of the ume flavor too).


Pat, Depending on your local Asian Market, you can find Umebosi with lower salt content. I live in Dallas, TX and several of the Asian grocers have several types. Look at the label and see what percentage the sodium is. I think the normal variety (salty) has 30% and higher of Sodium. I have found some that have 6% Sodium. It tastes so much different. Recently I had some Ume from Japan that was low sodium. My Cooking Sensei (who is Nihonjin) told me the variety she bought costs $1 a plum.

Hmmm, simple rice

I agree that plain rice with a simple accompaniment can be tasty and nurturing! I just ordered your Just Bento cookbook and have made gomasho using the recipe in the staples section. It's nice! I've always used toasted white/black sesame seeds whenever rice needed to be pimped up and there was little staple to work with, but this adds JUST that extra bit of flavour to make it even more appetising. Thanks!

Re: Bento no. 16: A minimalist vegan bento for a tender ...

I just ordered your Just Bento cookbook and have made gomasho using the recipe in the staples section. It's nice!

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